A Well-Managed Home-Part Four

March 2, 2008 Preacher: Randy Smith Series: Christian Living in the Home

Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:4

Transcript

A Well-Managed Home-Part Four

I Timothy 3:4
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Pastor Randy Smith



Nobody enjoys or benefits from a chaotic home. When children are an embarrassment to have in public. When parental guidelines are ignored. When spouses spend the majority of their time fighting, nagging or manipulating. When the physical house goes uncared for. When demands overshadow thankfulness and complaining overshadows contentment. In a home like this, joy and productivity will be at a minimum.

For the past few weeks we have been taking a brief break from our study in the gospel of Matthew to devote some time to Christian living in the home. Our theme verse has been 1 Timothy 3:4. "He must be one who manages his own household well." From a very practical, yet biblical perspective, we have been seeking to understand the aspects of a well-managed home.

A well-managed home will bring happiness. Even most unbelievers would agree with that. But as Christians we are to always have a higher purpose in mind. Our main thrust in all we do is to bring glory and honor to God (1 Cor. 10:31). What I am trying to say is that beyond our personal interests, there are theological reasons for a well-managed home that even many believers overlook. And it is only when we fulfill these theological reasons that God will be honored, and we will experience the true happiness we so eagerly desire.

Ephesians 1:22 states, "And He (God the Father) put all things in subjection under His feet (God the Son)." In this present age, Jesus Christ is the supreme ruler over the entire cosmos. That is why we read in the Bible, "He…is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1 Ti. 6:15). That is why we read in the Bible, "At the name of Jesus every knee will bow…and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10-11). Even Jesus said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Mt. 28:18).

And to magnify Christ's rulership, our God of order has placed under Him different spheres of authority. We read about them throughout the Bible. Parents have bosses. Children have teachers. Citizens have governments. Congregations have pastors. And within the home God has so designed it whereby husbands provide loving leadership, wives submit, and children obey their parents.

R.C. Sproul put it like this, "All authority is under Christ. When we disobey lesser authorities, we are guilty of disobeying Christ. You cannot serve the King and honor His authority by rebelling against His appointed governors. To say you honor the kingdom of Christ while you disobey His authority structure is to be guilty not only of hypocrisy but of cosmic treason" (The Intimate Marriage, p. 32).

That is why the Apostle Paul in Ephesians after He commanded the church to be "filled with the Spirit" (in 5:18), commanded the church (in 5:21) to "be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." Following on the heels of that exhortation are immediately listed the specific spheres of authority under Christ established by God the Father. It is our responsibility to understand these spheres and function accordingly based upon our placement in this world.

This is important to honor God, and it goes without saying that this is important to a well-managed home. This morning we'll look at the role of the husband, the wife and the child as they are found in Ephesians chapters 5 and 6.

1. A HUSBAND'S ROLE

Let's first take a look at the role of the husband. I will keep my remarks brief as I devoted an entire sermon two weeks ago to this very issue.

When we read about a wife's submissiveness in verses 22-24, it is very easy to conclude that Paul would command the husbands to lead. Although when we get to the teaching for husbands in verse 25, the Apostle does not say, "Husbands, lead your wives." Rather he says, "Husbands, love your wives." And the way we are to love our wives is spelled out in the remainder of the verse: "Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her."

Men, we get not only our marching orders but also our example from Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ sacrificially and selflessly loved and continues to love His bride (which is the church). By the authority of Scripture we are commanded to love our brides in the same manner. In other words, as members of His church, we are to receive the love of Christ and then extend that same love through the power of the Holy Spirit to our wives.

When we consider our Savior, it is a love that leads by example. John 13:15, "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you" (that was after Jesus washed the disciples' feet!). It is a love that leads by service. Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." With this as a backdrop you can see that there is absolutely no room for a harsh, tyrannical dictator.

As I said two weeks ago, I believe many men have gone in the opposite direction. Instead of providing a loving biblical authority for their families whereby their home might be well-managed under Christ's lordship, they have ignored their high calling.

The Archie Bunker days are over. Turn on the average sitcom today and the father is portrayed as a bumbling fool. Someone recently pointed out that the only television father who regularly attends church is Homer Simpson - Not exactly the model, men are to follow - Far from the example of true manhood established by Jesus Christ.

Before I move on to the ladies, I bring up with reluctance one issue I frequently deal with as a pastor. I believe too many men are more concerned about their wife's role than they are about their own. I believe they find it easier to detect their partner's failures, than see and subsequently correct their own shortcomings.

Men, would you consider the following with me?

How easy are you making it for your wife to submit? Do you consider her feelings? Do you live with her in an understanding way (1 Pet. 3:7)? Is your leadership kind and compassionate and thoughtful? Do you lead by example, practicing what you preach?

I am appalled by the men who stand so strongly on a wife's need to submit, but they demonstrate very little submissiveness in their own lives. What kind of example of submissiveness are you setting if you cheat on your taxes, ignore traffic laws, harass church leaders and complain about your boss?

Furthermore, men, before you ever complain about the lack of control of your wives, make sure you have learned to practice some self-control in your own life. For until you learn to manage yourself, you will never be able to manage you home.

The story is told about a pastor who heavily advertised his upcoming sermon. It was entitled, "How to get your wife to treat you like a king." As expected the place was packed. Yet the content of his message was very simple. "Men if you want to be treated like a king, why don't you begin by treating your wife like a queen!"

Gentlemen, the bottom line is this. Once you are ultimately motivated by a desire to glorify the Lord, you will not be veered off course by any actions on a horizontal level, an interpersonal level. Sure, your wife can make your job a whole lot easier by submitting, but ultimately your responsibility to love her as Jesus Christ loves the church is an act of obedience to God regardless of how others may treat you.

Men, you must understand that God has called you to be a leader. It is not because you are more intelligent, more gifted or more spiritual. You are a leader simply because that is the way God ordained it to have order in the home and maintain Christ's universal headship.

Let's remember that in verse 32 of chapter 5 of Ephesians, Paul said these roles are to reflect Christ's relationship to the church. When people look at our marriages, they are to see the most glorious marriage in the world - The one between Jesus Christ and His church. Men are we taking our lead from a loving Savior? And women, as we move to the second point, are you taking you lead from a submissive church?

2. A WIFE'S ROLE

In verses 22-24 the Apostle Paul said, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything."

Of a woman's submissiveness, noted Christian counselor Jay Adams said, "They have tried to dull the edge. They have twisted it and ignored it. But there is no way to get away from the plain intent of these words, no matter how you squeeze them… Paul said it three times in three verses in three different ways" (Christian Living in the Home, p. 73).

Possibly a few points will help clarify this often misunderstood section of Scripture.

First of all, the word "submit" (hupotasso) simply means -"to line up under." It carries the idea of willingly or voluntarily placing oneself under someone else. As I mentioned last week, it relates only to role, not to essence. It has nothing to do with being inferior, just as God the Son is not inferior to God the Father, though submissive to Him in role (1 Cor. 11:3). As John MacArthur said, "What it calls for is an active, deliberate, loving, intelligent devotion to the husband's noble aspirations and ambitions" (The Fulfilled Family, p. 32).

Second, understanding that the word is "submit" and not "obey" (cf. Eph. 6:1), helps us to understand that the woman's objective is simply intended to complement her husband's leadership. Rather than a two-headed monstrosity leading the family, she is there to support his God-designated role while fully functioning as his equal partner and "fellow heir of the grace of life" (1 Pet. 3:7). This means the wife should be free to share opinions, provide insight and even respectfully disagree. But when it is all said and done, she is willing to come alongside her husband's plan for the family.

Third, lest we soften this word "submit" too much; let's remember that going along when you agree is not submission. It is like the woman who said, "I always submit to my husband when I think he's right." That is agreement, not submission! Submission is willingly forsaking your desires for the sake of your husband's leadership and unity within the family.

Fourth, it is conceivable that the husband should submit more to his wife than the wife submits to her husband. If it is only the husband always getting his way, where would the husband need to die to self and prefer his wife's needs above his own that we learned about two weeks ago? Although Jesus Christ is our head, I do not see Him demanding where we go on vacation, what temperature we keep the house, what food we serve on the table and what color the home should be decorated. Husbands, in the same way, consider your wife's needs above your own and do not abuse the verses on submission as an excuse to be selfish!

Fifth, wives, submissiveness is not a response your husband deserves but rather a desire on your part to be obedient to the Word of God. As verse 22 says, a woman's submissiveness is "as to the Lord." Therefore this action is to be done regardless of the worthiness of your husband.

You say, "What happens if my husband is an unbeliever?" Peter addresses that very issue in his epistle.

"In the same way," say the Apostle, "you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives (1 Pet. 3:1). Did you hear that? If your husband is an unbeliever, your greatest goal should be to win him to Christ. And according to this passage, the greatest way to win your husband to Christ is not through sermonizing or constant nagging; it is not by any words but rather by your submissive behavior. The passage continues, "As they (husbands) observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external - braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God" (1 Pet. 3:2-4).

You say, "Is there any time I should refuse to submit to my husband?" Again, the answer is clear. If your husband ever expects you to disobey Scripture, you must refuse, as your obedience to the Lord is always the top priority in every decision. As Peter and John said when they were told to stop talking about Jesus Christ: "We must obey God rather than men" (Ac. 5:29).

Sixth, when you feel your hands are tied, ladies, remember that your husband is the one accountable before God. Just as pastors will be accountable before God for the direction of the church (Heb. 13:17), husbands will be accountable before God for the direction of the family. Remember, when Adam and Eve blew it in the Garden, it was Adam that was questioned (Gen. 3:9) and subsequently judged - The act forever known as "Adam's sin" (cf. Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22). Therefore trust the Lord's justice and permit the one being held accountable to have the final say. When a wife gets to heaven, the Lord will never say, "You sure did a bad job in leading that family." The only thing He will ask is how she functioned on the basis of the role which He gave her.

Seventh, this role allows a woman the freedom to be all that God has called her to be. According to the Scriptures, a woman's high calling and greatest means to self-fulfillment is to bring up children and manage the house (1 Ti. 5:14). Going back to creation, the woman was created to be the man's helper (Gen. 2:18, 20), but I believe it is also fair to think of the man as the woman's helper. He is there to oversee and manage the direction of the family, to liberate the woman from the encumbrances of these responsibilities so she can be freed up to make the greatest influence by training up a generation of children that love and honor God. Can anything be more rewarding or more important?

3. A CHILD'S ROLE

The role for the husbands and wives is to mirror Christ's relationship to the church. Finally, God has designed a role for the children as well.

It is seen in the theme verse we have been using the past few weeks from 1 Timothy 3: "He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity."

Ephesians 6, beginning in verse 1 we see the expectation addressed specifically to the children: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth" (Eph. 6:1-3).

The role for children is clearly stated throughout the Bible. It is the only command specially given to kids. Simply stated, God expects them to obey and honor their parents.

To obey means to immediately do what they are told. To honor means to treat with respect. The obedience part changes when a child moves out of the house, but the honor part continues as long as the parents are alive.

Parents, you must take God's expectation for your child seriously! Obviously it is important for a well-managed home, that goes without saying, but it is more important for the health of your child's soul. A disobedient child is a disgrace in the eyes of God. In the Old Testament such individuals were stoned (Ex. 21:17; Dt. 21:18-21: Mt. 15:4). In the New Testament the sin of child rebellion is placed on the same level as the most serious sins you can imagine (Rom. 1:30, 32; 2 Ti. 3:1-2). So how can we understand this, realize our responsibility as parents, say we respect God and love our kids, and then permit our children to go their own way?

My time is coming to an end but permit me to provide some scattered thoughts for you to ponder as you consider this topic regarding a child's obedience.

Parents, you must be on the same page as it relates to the general expectations for your children. Disharmony here will either confuse the child or give him fuel to manipulate one parent against the other.

Parents, allow you children to communicate their thoughts, feelings and ideas. Treat them as a person and important member of the family. Spend time with them individually. Cultivate an atmosphere where they are comfortable "opening-up" before you. Listen to them with real interest and personal attachment. Relationships determine response. Strong relationships will promote more obedient children.

Parents, expect obedience. That means compliance without delay, without complaining, without crying and without negotiating. Explain your objectives and guidelines clearly, but there comes a time when they need to realize that "no" is a complete sentence.

Parents, be a good example. Our lives cannot be a living contradiction of our message. Children will quickly pick up on what is most important to us. Who we are is more important than what we say. Do our children see our obedience to God in action? Do we discipline our children for sins we are presently committing?

Parents, follow Ephesians 6:4: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." It is impossible to have respectful and obedient children if we are not teaching them and not disciplining them. Furthermore, as the verse indicates, it is impossible to have respectful and obedient children when our instruction and our discipline provokes them to anger and breaks their spirit. Few things are more heartbreaking than a child who has "lost heart" because of poor parenting.

Recently I read a book by the Puritan, Cotton Mather, entitled, A Well-Ordered Family. In it he said, "You can do little for the welfare of your children once you have lost your authority over them… Don't allow them by your lightness, weakness, and folly, to trample upon you; but keep up so much authority that your word may be a law unto them. Nevertheless, do not let your authority be strained with such harshness and fierceness as may discourage your children. To treat our children like slaves, and with such rigor that they shall always tremble and abhor the idea of coming into our presence, is very unlike our heavenly Father" (p. 12).

The role for children is that they obey and honor their parents.

Andreas Kostenberger sums this topic well: "It is critical that parents teach children the importance of obedience. Parents who neglect to hold their children accountable for rendering obedience fail them in that they do not help them along the path of Christian discipleship, of which obedience is a central component. Hence the primary importance of obedience is not for parents to receive their children's obedience, but for parents to help children to learn to exercise obedience ultimately in their relationship with God" (God, Marriage and Family, p. 117).

Well, my friends, our time has concluded. As I said before, I believe it is self-evident that understanding and implementing our biblical roles and responsibilities within the family is necessary for a well-managed home.

Yet there is something greater to consider. A well-managed home renders Christianity respectful to the surrounding culture. Quite often in Scripture we are called to act this way so that we might adorn the Gospel and make Jesus Christ attractive to a watching world (1 Ti. 3:7; 6:1; Tit. 2:5, 8, 10; 3:8; 1 Pet. 2:12).

So when people see our homes do they see something that they've always wanted but never knew how to achieve? Do they see order and peace and harmony and joy and thanksgiving and love? Do they see a distinctively Christian home, not just a place where Christians live, but also a place where Jesus Christ dwells as the supreme Lord over all?


More in Christian Living in the Home

March 16, 2008

A Well-Managed Home-Part Six

March 9, 2008

A Well-Managed Home-Part Five

February 17, 2008

A Well-Managed Home-Part Three